National Restoration Party (NAREP) president Elias Chipimo says it is strange for Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya to expect Zambians to believe that the economy is doing fine when people in the country continue to wallow in poverty.

Reacting to Siliya’s statement that Zambia’s economy was doing fine as the numbers were indicative of the same, Chipimo said her remarks clearly showed that the PF government did not care about Zambians because government officials’ pronouncements were not matching with what obtained on the ground.

“This is part of the problem because when you behave like an ostrich, which has its head buried in the sand, you can think that, actually, everything is okay because as long as you pretend that things are fine they will somehow be fine. But the reality is that, they are not fine and the danger that comes with thinking that things are fine, or pretending things are fine, then you will not actually seek solutions to make things better. So, what the PF is really telling us when they tell us the economy is fine, what the Chief Government Spokesperson is telling us when they say the economy is fine is that, number 1; they don’t see the problem of the suffering of ordinary Zambians; number 2, they are not prepared to even look at any solutions because they don’t think there is a problem there,” Chipimo observed in an interview.

“And so, this is really a clear indication from the government that, really, we care very little what you are going through and we are going to believe or pretend that everything is fine. The only choice, which leaves Zambian citizens and an ordinary individual, who is struggling on a daily basis under the crippling effects of the economy is to say to himself: ‘well, maybe, I need a new kind of leadership; one that does care; one that will listen to the plight of ordinary people and one that will actually want to come up with a solution to address what is a real problem of the average Zambian.”

He said Siliya’s utterances equally exposed a disconnect between government officials’ lavish lifestyles and what was obtaining on the ground for ordinary Zambians.

“Well, there is a big disconnect at the moment; the disconnect happens in two ways. First of all, you have those like the Chief Government Spokesperson (Siliya) who have a regular salary, allowances, access to contracts and opportunities, people willing to back and support things that they do for whom no matter how bad the economy is, personally, it will be always fine for them so that is one aspect. But it is completely different aspect from the reality most people are having to go through when they walk in to a shop they have to spend K140 to buy mealie meal; if they are buying it through ‘pamela’ little units at a time, maybe, they are spending more like K180 when you add it all up. They are having to struggle to raise school fees; they are having to struggle not just to put food on the table, but to move about from one place to another and they’ve got no jobs and they have no real income-generating opportunities. So, this is a real disconnect,” said Chipimo.

“Secondly, there is this problem of leaders looking at the economy as though it is some kind of theoretical animal that is producing GDP (Gross Domestic Product); dealing with inflation and dealing in raw numbers around debt management and reserves and so on. But that is not the real economy an ordinary Zambian is going through. So, it may well be that inflation is at 8.8 per cent, it may we be that the GDP number has gone up, but what is driving those things. What you find is that GDP is rising because certain contracts are given to investors, who generate the money here, but take it outside (the country) and spend it; take it outside to develop their own economies rather than ours. And the amounts that we are spending on the projects that government is actually undertaking are well in excess in many cases of the true costs of running those projects or building that particular infrastructure. So, those numbers help to boost the size of the economy, but is actually having very little impact, locally, on ordinary citizens. So there is a disconnection from this two angles when one looks at it very carefully.”